Man acquitted of murder at homeless camp

SAN DIEGO — A man was acquitted Wednesday of murder and witness intimidation charges in the slaying of a 67-year-old homeless man at a Mission Valley transient camp.

Sekou Torre Bullock, 39, was charged with the April 3, 2018, death of Monty Proulx, whose body was found face-down in an open area off the 8800 block of Friars Road. Prosecutors alleged Bullock shot Proulx in the chest with a revolver wrapped in a sock, which police found in Bullock’s backpack on April 12, the day he was arrested.

Jurors deliberated for about one day before finding him not guilty of first-degree murder and dissuading a witness. Prosecutors alleged that Bullock had his brother threaten a key witness in the case.

The jury did convict Bullock of resisting arrest. San Diego County Superior Court Judge Charles G. Rogers immediately sentenced Bullock to a one-year term for the misdemeanor conviction, but he will be released from custody for having served that time in county jail.

Bullock’s attorney, Victoria Ramirez, maintained that a man who said he was at the shooting scene and witnessed the slaying was Proulx’s actual killer.

That witness — who was formerly homeless — told investigators he spent the day on April 2, 2018, seeking drugs from homeless companions living at the Mission Valley river bottom, then encountered Bullock, who needed to replace a flat tire on his car. The men knew each other, as Bullock sometimes stayed at the witness’ home and was the ex-boyfriend of the witness’ wife, according to trial testimony.

The attorney said the witness and his wife got into an argument that day and the wife instructed Bullock to search for the witness at the river bottom, where he frequently sought drugs.

After unsuccessfully seeking a spare tire, the men decided to go to the river bottom to ask Proulx — a close friend of the witness — for help.

Deputy District Attorney Meghan Buckner alleged that about 1 a.m. on April 3, the witness met with Proulx, at which point Bullock approached and shot at Proulx, missing him initially and killing him with a second shot.

Ramirez told jurors that the witness killed Proulx for his money and drugs and spread a false story implicating Bullock, who had no motive to kill Proulx. The attorney said the witness knew Proulx would have money and drugs, whereas Bullock had no relationship with the victim, as he was never a member of the homeless community, unlike his accuser.

Following his arrest, Bullock urged his family members over recorded jail calls to get the witness to “tell the real,” which Ramirez maintained was not a threat, but rather a bid to rightfully clear his name.

In the jail calls, Bullock also mentioned being arrested for a fatal stabbing, which Ramirez said bolstered that Bullock was innocent.

San Diego police initially believed — and publicly announced — that Proulx had been stabbed, but a subsequent autopsy revealed he had been shot, according to trial testimony. San Diego police Detective Sgt. Duane Malinowski testified that the department withheld that information from the public so any witness reports that the man had been shot would be confirmed as legitimate.

The witness told police that Bullock had shot Proulx, and described the revolver later found on Bullock, including the details of the sock it was wrapped around. However, ballistics testing could not definitively match the bullet that killed Proulx to the gun.

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